Igor Shesterkin needed to stop just 16 shots as he shut out the Devils for the second consecutive game. The Rangers played an excellent defensive game limiting the Devils’ opportunities all night. As a team they blocked 20 shots so, yes, they blocked more shots than New Jersey got on net. Anytime you can do that to a team it’s safe to say you are shutting them down defensively. The only thing that didn’t go the Rangers way last night was that the Boston Bruins defeated the Islanders for the first time this season 4-1. The Boston win keeps them four points ahead of the Rangers for the final playoff spot in the East Division. Here are the highlights from last night’s 4-0 win.
The top moment for me last night was seeing Lindgren score his first goal of the season, and his first in 97 games. This guy has earned his nickname as “The Warrior.” I don’t think he has gotten through a game and not bled yet this year. He is tough as nails and is an excellent complement to his defensive pair partner Adam Fox who, by the way, assisted on the goal. His defensive ability allows for Fox to create more in the offensive zone. Also, the fact that they have been D partners going back to U17 US Juniors hockey just makes them a perfect pair. Last night he scored, had a +2 +/- rating, blocked three shots and registered four hits. What else do you need a top pairing defenseman to do? The 22-year-old defenseman is following up a solid rookie season with an even better sophomore year.
THAT FELT GOOD pic.twitter.com/R5QFt3oZZ3— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) April 15, 2021
Another monster game for “The Breadman” last night. He scored twice and also assisted on Lindgren’s goal with a perfect pass. Short of Mark Messier right now, he has to be the best free-agent ever to sign with the Rangers. When the Rangers signed him, my initial thought was wow, I know he is good but that is a lot of money for a left wing. Well, he is worth every penny of his $11,642,857 contract. In his 101 games on Broadway, he is averaging 1.40 points per game. The closest player in Rangers history to him is Jaromir Jagr, who had 1.15 in New York. He is having another unbelievable season and, if it wasn’t for Russian government interference, he would be right in the Hart Trophy conversation again this year and the Rangers would probably be in a playoff position.
I think it is time for the Rangers to say Strome is the second center going forward and extend his contract this off-season. Last night Strome had two more assists setting up both Artemi Panarin goals. In his two seasons centering Artemi, you can just see the chemistry and the connection the two of them have. In 113 games with Panarin, he has 98 points, averaging 0.87 points per game. There will be more rumors this off-season about Jack Eichel, but how much better can he be than Strome? Plus Strome will make about $4-5 million less opening up cap for the Rangers. Since his slow start to the season, Strome has been on fire and is scoring like a top 10 center in the league.
Ryan Strome has tallied 25 assists since Feb. 18; tied for 2nd-most in the NHL and tied for most among forwards (tied w/Crosby & trails Fox).— NYR Stats & Info (@NYRStatsInfo) April 16, 2021
Strome is 1 of 7 NHL centers with 12+ goals & 27+ assists in 2020-21 (McDavid, Draisaitl, MacKinnon, Crosby, Scheifele, Backstrom).#NYR
Blackwell had a career-best three assists last night. Every game, this guy shows up makes an impact. He now has 20 points on the year and has eight points in eight games in the month of April. Blackwell is very reliable in his defensive zone and, even though he is only 5’9″, he plays a physical game and doesn’t back down to anyone. As much as I want to see Kravtsov move up to that second line, it is tough to take a guy out that is producing. Blackwell has shown his value to the Rangers’ front office and has taken over that Jesper Fast role of playing up and down the lineup. It will be interesting to see what they decide to do with him for the expansion draft. Right now I am protecting him as the fourth forward over Howden.
Igor goes for three straight shut outs tomorrow afternoon back at MSG. The Rangers will hopefully get some help from their Long Island rivals tonight when they wrap up their back to back with the Bruins tonight.
Please be sure to bookmark our hockey page for hockey coverage and follow Belly Up Hockey on Twitter: @BellyUpHockey. Follow me on Twitter for more takes on the New York Rangers: @KHallNY. You can also listen to my NY Rangers podcast The Broadway Hat Podcast on Apple Podcast and Spotify for Rangers news and interviews with past and current players.